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Lin Dan

Beaten Lin Dan keen to play on; hints at going for a third Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games

  • The 2008 and 2012 Olympic champions is knocked out of the Hong Kong Open
  • He is still hopeful of qualifying for the Guangzhou World Tour finals
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 10:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 7:19am

China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan has said he has no plans to retire as he hints of going for gold at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The 35-year-old was beaten by Japan’s top seed and world champion Kento Momota in the first round of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open on Wednesday but defeat against the favourite to win gold in Tokyo has not diminished his enthusiasm for the sport.

Lin, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, said he would return to the circuit early next year for the start of the Tokyo 2020 qualifying campaign but it was too early to say if he would actually compete.

“There isn’t too many players at my age who can still continue to play on the tour and most importantly, I have no major injury,” said Lin after an hour-long match against Momota, who prevailed 21-19, 12-21, 21-15 in their first-round encounter.

Lin may be able to qualify for the World Tour finals in Guangzhou next month, but his early exit in Hong Kong may affect his chances because only the top eight players will be eligible.

The mainlander is seventh with the tour closing at the end of this month with the Korea Masters being his last qualifying event.

“I played quite a number of matches this year and a brief calculation may find I’ll play even more next year when the Olympic qualification period begins. The physical fitness demands will be a big test for me but I will work hard to keep playing.

“If I can’t play in the [Guangzhou] finals, I will start in January again, depending on which tournament I am entered in by the coach,” he said.

Momota, the hottest player on the tour, won the past two encounters between the pair, all this year, but the mainlander said he had the chance to reverse the result at Hung Hom Coliseum.

“He did not give me too much pressure this time and in fact, I should have had a better result,” said Lin, who last beat the Japanese player at the 2015 All England Open. “The third game was close and could have gone either way but I failed to take my chances.”

It was a disastrous start for Hong Kong’s men’s singles players, with youngster Lee Cheuk-yiu the lone survivor in the second round. Lee took the advantage of the retirement of mainlander Shi Yuqi, the second seed, after leading 11-3 in the first game.

The most disappointing result came from top hope Ng Ka-long, who looks a shadow of the player who won the Hong Kong Open at the same venue two years ago after a straight game 21-15, 21-16 defeat by Kantaphon Wancharoen, of Thailand.

“It’s definitely not my year,” said Ng after playing his last match of the 2018 tour. “I haven’t secured enough victories under the new world tour system to boost my confidence as my ranking slides. I need to pick it up when the new season begins in January.”

Ng was ranked world number six earlier this year but is now 14th at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Yip Pui-yin took the first game 21-16 from world number one Tai Tzu-ying, of Taiwan, in the women’s singles first round, but the home favourite could not hold on to her advantage as Tai came back with 21-8, 21-14 wins in the next two games.

The top seed will now meet another Hong Kong player, Cheung Ngan-yi, in the next stage after the home player overcame Dinar Dyah Ayustine, of Indonesia, 18-21, 21-17, 21-13.